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Issue No. 197 26 September 2003  
E D I T O R I A L

Coming to the Party
The coming NSW ALP State Conference marks an important moment in the changing relationship between the political and industrial wings of the Party.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: Crowded Lives
Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner talks us through his new book on the importance of relationships and why politics is letting the people down.

Activists: Life With Brian
Work by men like Brian Fitzpatrick is exposing new Australians to old truths. Jim Marr reports

Industrial: National Focus
A showdown looms in Cancun, Qantas gets bolshie, casual and lazy in its response to aviation challenges, and long festering disputes fester on in Victoria and Tasmania reports Noel Hester in this national wrap.

Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Trades Hall is preparing for a major facelift but first, Jim Marr reports, it must bid farewell to the colourful bunch who have populated its dusty corridors in recent years.

Economics: Beating the Bastards
Frank Stilwell looks at some of the proposals for building a fairer finance sector.

Media: Three Corners
So its come to this. Four Corners, one of the world's longest running television programs is now under pressure from an ABC Executive that is less cultural visionary than feral abacus.

History: The Brisbane Line
Percy Spender was Menzies' foreign minister, but, Neale Towart asks, was he also prepared to serve as Prime Minister in a Japanese controlled Australia?

Trade: The Dumping Problem
Oxfam-CAA helps set the scene for this month's World Trade Organisation in Cancun.

Review: Frankie's Way
In The Night We Called It A Day Frank Sinatra learns 'sorry' Down Under is a loaded word and refusal to say it when due will lose fans in important places, writes Tara de Boehmler.

N E W S

 Violence: Rail Workers' Hot Spray

 Corporate "Branch Stack" in Court

 Entitlements: Ball in Carr’s Court

 Asbestos Prospect for Home Buyers

 "Stand Over" Claims at Hilton

 US: Iraq on the Block

 Sheeps Of Shame

 Teachers Applaud TAFE Backdown

 Council Delays Sweat Shop Action

 Monk Aims Muscle at Unis

 Cobar Beats Off CBH Assault

 Sign Here For Reconciliation

 Workers Denied Home Loans

 Casual Approach No Holiday

 Activists Notebook

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Staking Our Territory
ACTU secretary Greg Combet argued for a fairer Australia in his keynote address to last month's ACTU Congress.

The Locker Room
Seasonally Agisted
Spring is a season when a person’s thoughts turn to…horse racing. Phil Doyle reports on the fate of nags and folk heroes.

Housing
Beyond the Block
We are wild about the people who live in The Block but not too interested in those who are on the streets outside, writes Michael Rafferty.

Politics
The Westie Wing
Workers friend Ian West MLC, reports form the Bearpit about a project to raise awareness about trade unionism amongst young people.

Postcard
The Awkward Squad
Paul Smith meets one of the new generation of British union leaders who is taking the ball up to the Blair spin team.

L E T T E R S
 The Clown and the Magician.
 Shorter Hours
 A Sick War
 Taxi!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Cobar Beats Off CBH Assault


A Consolidated Broken Hill move to rip millions of dollars out of rural Cobar has been thwarted by a landmark ruling that stops companies jumping jurisdictions to evade decisions they don't like.

The NSW IRC full bench decision has forced Consolidated Broken Hill to abandon plans to hire Endeavour Mine workers on AWAs, and back into negotiations with the AWU.

Its orders prevent CBH and its contractors by-passing the NSW Industrial Relations Commission by transferring future employees into the Federal industrial relations system.

AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten, hailed the decision as a "breakthrough" and called on CBH to sit down and negotiate a fair settlement.

The lead and zinc mine is the biggest single employer in outback Cobar. It's problems began when original owner, Pasminco, went into administration more than two years ago.

CBH subsequently bought the operation, changed its name from Elura to Endeavour, and planned to operate it through a series of sub-contractors who would pay wages averaging around $30,000 short of those provided for in the mine's consent award.

When the AWU objected it lost its original case in the IRC. But the full bench, last week, upheld its appeal, ruling the award still applied and instructing CBH, its contractors, and the AWU to negotiate a new industrial agreement.

It gave the AWA an injunction preventing mine employers from evading the agreement by hiring new employees under Federal AWAs.

The campaign to save jobs and condition in NSW's far west has been supported by mine workers and the Cobar community.

Shorten said Cobar miners could now hold out "greater hope" that their conditions would not be undermined by employers shopping between jurisdictions for the "worst deal".

Temporary Aides Seek Access to Home Loans

School support staff on temporary contracts who care for disabled children are seeking a change in their employment status so they can qualify for home loans and other financial services.

Under a groundbreaking proposal being pursued by the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union a number of Aides in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese could finally win permanent status.

The IEU says hundreds of the Integrative Aides Australia-wide have been robbed of the "basic dignity" of job security because their positions rely on government funding being maintained for the special needs children they care for from year to year.

One example of many is the plight of Debbie Micallef who is now struggling to get from work and back after her car blew up. After more than nine years on the job Micallef can't get a bank loan to buy a new one because she lacks security of employment.

"Living year by year has meant many are unable to qualify for home loans and other services from financial institutions that require proof of stable employment," IEU state secretary Dick Shearman says.

Shearman said this could all change if the Independent Education Union is successful in its bid to have the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese introduce a marginal percentage of permanency to the Aides' positions.

The Independent Education Union is requesting the Diocese make the Aides' positions 60% permanent in cases where the support staff work regular numbers of hours in long-term positions.

Shearman said the figure is enough to make a difference to the Aides' loan prospects but not so much that the Diocese will be left to foot the bill if the funding is reduced.

"Even if funding is reduced it would be unlikely to be cut by more than 60% over the course of any year," he says.

"There is no good reason why Integrative Aides that have been on temporary contracts for three years or more could not have their employment status changed to more accurately reflect the ongoing nature of their work."

"Some of these Aides have been on temporary contracts in excess of 10 years, yet they have no access to the basic dignity of job security that so many of us take for granted."

"These loyal workers should no longer be denied access to home loans, personal loans, and other vital financial services because of a technicality with their employment classification."

The IEU has previously been successful in a bid to have formally recognised the ongoing employment of a group of teachers of English as a Second Language, enabling many to access previously unavailable financial services.


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